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"Nobody has ever loved me the way he did. And I truly hope he felt the same way."
Donna Engeman (DE) and Nicole McKenna (NM)
DE: He had pretty green eyes and he had this shock of curly red hair. It looked like Superman. If it had been black hair he would have been Superman.
We were very young soldiers, and we were living in the barracks. A lot of times those relationships happened, and typically they called ‘em a barrack romance because they didn’t last very long.
NM: But you and Daddy lasted quite a while, right?
DE: We did. We were married in 1983. And Daddy died in 2006.
NM: Tell me about Daddy as a young parent.
DE: He always had an inordinate amount of patience. The first three weeks of your life you were this tiny delicate little bundle and you just slept on his chest. He would not move at night. And honestly that was the only three weeks out of our entire marriage that I didn’t hear him snore.
You know, I always felt so loved, but I always felt so honored by him too. I mean, I was never a gourmet cook. But we could have had mud pies, and he would have said, “Thank you.”
NM: What’s your favorite memory about being married to Daddy?
DE: Just one?
NM: Just one.
DE: (laughs) I remember when we were at a military ball, and we were dancing. And the music had been fast, and then we went into a slow dance. And he was in … his dress blues. And I remember how he would hold me. Isn’t it weird, I still remember what his lips feel like on my neck.
NM: If you had a minute, one minute … what would you say to Dad?
DE: I would want him to know, nobody has ever loved me the way he did. And I hope, I truly hope he felt the same way.
StoryCorps 470: Send-Offs
For this Memorial Day podcast, we share stories from men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces over the past 73 years. Listen
Bill Sayenga and Ellen Riek
Bill Sayenga remembers his mother, a woman who saw the need for change and ran for office—winning in 1953 and holding her seat for six terms.
StoryCorps is America’s oral history project. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected more than 60,000 interviews with over 100,000 participants from all backgrounds -- the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.
Recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress so that future generations can hear the stories – and the voices – of today.
We share stories online and through our popular weekly NPR broadcasts, podcast, animated shorts, and best-selling books. StoryCorps is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.